By Dr. Melody King, firstname.lastname@example.org
As a retail decision maker, you may have already seen the value of creating videos about your stores and products – perhaps you even have your own YouTube channel. That’s a great start, but merely posting videos, and not encouraging customers and fans to interact with them, mean you’re not getting the most benefit from your videos. Videos make for great content – and there’s no doubt about it, content is king, according to online marketing experts. However, as social media grows ever more popular, conversation, not content, is taking the lead in driving engagement and promoting conversations among customers and retailers.
Social video marketing, where you use your videos to encourage these types of conversations, is the smart way to get more mileage from your videos. This means doing more work than merely posting videos – it means getting your customers to share videos and add their own ideas and commentary to discussions, which in turn encourages other consumers to pay more attention to your messages.
Social video marketing feeds into consumers’ propensity to trust user-generated content over any other kind of content (especially above material that’s provided directly by a brand), according to recent studies by Bazaarvoice and Kelton Research. In addition, 84% of Millennials, or people under 35, believe that user-generated content influences their purchases. This is a generational shift: Millennials are three times as likely as their parents to visit social channels for feedback from their peers.
Since social networking is rapidly changing and evolving, opportunities to make video more social are popping up with greater frequency. For instance, Pinterest, which has built up a huge audience in just several months on the social networking scene, has expanded its users' ability to pin videos from Hulu, Vimeo and more. This increased sharing ability means that videos can appear on users' Facebook and Twitter pages – and this sharing can help lift a company’s search rankings. Google is playing this game as well: It’s weaving its own Google+ social network into search rankings and online video sharing on YouTube, creating even greater convergence of video with social.
If you’d like to start creating some social conversations around your videos, here’s how to get started.
Don’t stop at posting. Posting videos to your YouTube channel is the first step toward social video marketing. In fact, posting your videos to YouTube can not only help increase social sharing of your videos, but can also boost your SEO rankings: Retailers such as Sports Unlimited, Advantage Bridal, and Factory Direct Jewelry have all been able to increase natural search listings and traffic, thanks to back links to their sites from YouTube.
However, simply posting videos does not turn you into a social video marketer. Encourage customers to comment, like, and share your videos with their other social network connections. You can increase the likelihood of sharing by offering compelling video content that consumers want to watch and share, and by simply asking them to share outright by adding readily available sharing icons and links.
Pull instead of pushing. How can you make your videos and their messages generate interest in your online communities? It’s certainly helpful to have videos that promote specific products, but consumers are also highly receptive to authentic, personal messages about your company. For example, you can use video to explain how your company is responding to customer feedback, tell a story about how your products are making a difference, or explain how consumers are using your products in unique ways. Don’t worry about creating videos that are slick and polished – simply offering consumers a personal connection to your brand can help humanize your company and encourage shoppers to share your messages. Zappos.com does a great job creating videos that explain its customer service and return policies, with the added bonus of giving customers a good impression of how the company operates.
Let customers do the talking. Consider letting customers upload their own videos talking about their experiences with your products, or their responses to your videos. Make sure you let them share these videos with their social networks. If this approach doesn’t work for your business, keep looking for other ideas. For example, executives at Will It Blend knew it would be irresponsible to ask users to perform their own experiments and grind up products like iPhones in their blenders, so they asked Facebook users to suggest items the company could blend in their videos.
Go for quality over quantity. Sure, you want lots of people to view your videos, but driving high engagement is more desirable. Social video marketing focuses on measuring shares, comments, links to your website and the online buzz it generates for your brand. So while going viral is terrific, you really want to encourage interaction, which does more to help sales. Being funny can help build interaction – but use humor with caution, because it can be tricky to pull off well. It’s more important to be real and to connect with customers.
From the beginning, any social video marketing strategy should include ways for users to share their thoughts, and feel like they have contributed to the content being shared. It's also important to provide access to channels that make sharing and redistribution easy.
Marketing has claimed a “customer first” focus for a long time – perhaps too long. Social media is now forcing retailers to walk the talk. Putting consumers front and center, and giving them a sense of co-creation, adds value for them and their social circle, as well as potential customers who are seeking information. It can also provide very powerful incentives for consumers to buy.
As VP of sales and marketing for Treepodia, Dr. Melody King, DM, provides clients with ecommerce solution expertise to harness the power of rich media in the form of engaging video content. She can be reached at email@example.com.